Two apples that we’ve enjoyed a great deal over the years have been Sweet 16 and Keepsake. Being the inquisitive sort, John wanted to know the parentage of both. Since both were relatively recent introductions, that information was available. The parents for both are identical, the famous Northern Spy and something with the unimaginative name of “Minnesota 447″. After a bit of research, John learned that “MN 447″ was a “chance seedling” (i.e. random seedling) discovered in the University of Minnesota breeding farm where it earned the reputation of being one of the weirdest apples of all time. We had to have it! John wrote to David Bedford at UMN, requesting “scionwood” to graft a tree here at Super Chilly Farm. David discouraged him saying that it didn’t even taste like an apple. He also said that they had no intention of ever releasing it, so it would be left in obscurity forever. Now we wanted it all the more! After signing a “non-propagation agreement” (promising never to make additional trees) the University sent John cuttings and he grafted a tree in our orchard. It grew quickly and fruited several years later. We loved it. We consider Minnesota 447 to be one of the most distinctive and unusual apples we’ve ever tried. The aromatic, crisp, crystalline flesh is an apricot-orange color with occasional red staining, and its so juicy it drips down your hand. Astonished friends have described its flavor as strange, molasses, yogurt, olives, fabulous, sweet, complex or “like sugar cane.” It has elicited stronger passions -both positive and negative- over the past few years than any other apple we've tested; people seem to love it or can't stand it.
Since we are amongst its biggest fans, John began a mission to convince David Bedford and the University to name it and release it. They finally agreed to do so. They had a contest to name it and came up with Frostbite. Not our pick for a name (although it is better than another contender, Dewdrop), but now it is out in the trade. John sells the trees through Fedco, and we're glad that it’s finally available.